Under a moonlit sky before a sold-out crowd on Thursday, the Universal Pictures movie-promoting Despicablimp hung overhead like a non sequitur for the band's first Philadelphia show since Modern Vampires' release in May. (The band headlined the Firefly festival in Delaware this summer.)
Guitarist Koenig, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, drummer Chris Tomson, and bass player Chris Baio have been on the festival circuit all summer and are in impressive, mid-tour form. They opened up their brisk, vise-tight, deftly played set with the new album's "Diane Young."
It's a typical new Vampire Weekend tune. The intricately rhythmic song bursts with life. The rat-a-tat of Tomson's drums and Koenig's hiccoughing vocal were emphasized by flashing lights on a stage set with floral wallpaper and faux Roman column backdrop.
"Diane Young" is a song that you can - and the enthusiastic audience did - dance to. But it's also a play on "dyin' young." "Nobody knows what the future holds, and it's bad enough just getting old," Koenig sang, putting his English major to use referencing Dylan Thomas: "So grab the wheel, keep holding it tonight / Till you're tottering off into that good night."
Singer and model Sky Ferreira opened with a set of murky, keyboard-driven songs drawn mostly from her coming album, Night Time, My Time. The 21-year-old songwriter's performance came less than a week after she and boyfriend Zachary Cole Smith of the band DIIV were arrested in Saugerties, N.Y., where she was charged with possession of ecstasy and resisting arrest. (Smith was charged with heroin possession and numerous vehicle violations, and the duo were released on bail.)
Ferreira's legal troubles were not mentioned, but they did give biographical context to her convincing, emotionally fraught delivery of the musical cry for help "Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)."
Contact Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @delucadan. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at www.inquirer.com/inthemix.